Recently, I shared the secret to amazing sales success - make the calls! I don't care what your product is or what your script is, if you make a lot of calls you will make a lot of sales. That said, it is possible to significantly increase the quality of your appointments by making your message laser-focused on a specific outcome. Too many salespeople are less concerned with quality than they are with quantity, and that is actually backwards thinking. I would rather have three high-quality sales appointments in a week than 10 mediocre sales appointments.
It probably makes sense to clarify the difference between a great appointment and a mediocre appointment. A mediocre appointment is one in which the prospect has no idea what exactly you want to talk about. One of the most common prospecting scripts that agents use is: "My name is Joe Agent and I would like to schedule a time to get together so that I can introduce myself to you and learn a little about what you do in order to see if I might be able to help you."
Agents that use this approach generally have to create proposals for 10 companies in order to close one or two. Another opening that leads to a mediocre appointment is: "I would like to quote on your health plan and see if I can help save you money."
If you have access to a proprietary product this might be a decent opening, but, if like most agents, you are quoting the same three to five carriers as everyone else, this opening results in a lot of work with a low conversion ratio.
The universal question
Here is a truth that applies to every human being: The only thing anyone cares about is "what's in it for me?"
When you are calling a potential prospect, the only thing he wants to know is how you can improve his current situation. I know that the temptation is to respond with the fact that you can't tell the prospect how you are going to make his life better until you have a chance to ask a few questions, but that is a cheap cop-out.
If you are an experienced agent, you already know many of the common challenges facing your clients. So, instead of a generic opening, switch to an idea-specific opening such as, "I have an idea that can help you reduce employee pressure for increased wages."
It is possible that the prospect will have zero interest in that idea, and that is perfectly alright. During this round of calls, I am only looking for those prospects that want to know more about that one idea. That knowledge provides the basis for the sales conversation.
Here are a couple of other idea-specific openings:
* "I have an idea that can help increase your benefits while simultaneously reducing your costs."
* "I have an idea that can not only lower your health insurance premiums, but can also help you get control of those premiums."
In the event that a prospect has zero interest you, simply utilize the "pivot," which is an idea that I discussed in the June issue ("Sales success with critical illness insurance," p. 58).
The one thing that you do not want to do is attempt to overcome the prospect's objection to the appointment. The whole idea is to secure very high quality appointments where the prospect has an explicit interest in your idea or product.
Schlesinger is an independent consultant focused on helping benefit professionals double their income. Reach him at (336) 777-3938 or through getmoregroupclients.com.
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